Politicians and LGBTQ rights advocates are applauding the Supreme Court’s ruling that employers cannot fire an employee based on their sexual orientation, calling Monday a historic day in the fight for equality.
In a 6-3 ruling, the court announced Title VII from the Civil Rights Act of 1964 offers protections from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
“[I]t is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the opinion.
Gerald Bostock, a plaintiff in the case, said in a statement that he was “elated” over the decision. He was employed by Clayton County, Georgia, until he was fired in 2013 for joining a gay softball league.
“There are truly no words to describe just how elated I am,” Bostock said. “When I was fired seven years ago, I was devastated. But this fight became about so much more than me. ... Today, we can go to work without the fear of being fired for who we are and who we love. Yet, there is more work to be done. Discrimination has no place in this world, and I will not rest until we have equal rights for all.”
Aimee Stephens and Don Zarda, also plaintiffs in the landmark case, both died before the decision was released. Stephens, a transgender woman from Michigan, was fired after announcing she would return to her job as a funeral director after having gender reassignment surgery. Zarda, a skydiving instructor from New York, was fired from his job after revealing he was gay.
“There is no question: LGBTQ people are protected from discrimination in the workplace,” the American Civil Liberties Union said in a tweet praising the Supreme Court’s decision.
Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and CEO of LGBTQ rights group GLAAD, said the decision “affirms what shouldn’t have even been a debate.”
“The decision gives us hope that as a country we can unite for the common good and continue the fight for LGBTQ acceptance,” Ellis said. “Especially at a time when the Trump Administration is rolling back the rights of transgender people and anti-transgender violence continues to plague our nation, this decision is a step towards affirming the dignity of transgender people, and all LGBTQ people.”
The Trump administration on Friday released a regulation to roll back protections against gender identity discrimination in health care. It would allow health insurance companies, doctors and hospitals regulated by the Affordable Care Act the ability to discriminate based on gender identity, posing a threat to transgender people seeking health care.
Many politicians also expressed excitement over Monday’s court ruling.
“Congratulations to the LGBTQ+ community on this monumental victory for equality,” tweeted Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who said it was a “historic day.” “We must never stop fighting to end all forms of discrimination and build a nation based on justice for all.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who is said to be on the shortlist to become Joe Biden’s running mate, called the decision a step in the right direction, but said there was more work to be done.
“No one should have to live in fear of discrimination,” she wrote on Twitter. “The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold protections for LGBTQ+ workers preserves the LGBTQ+ movement’s hard-won progress—but we must keep up the pressure to ensure every LGBTQ+ person is free to be who they are without fear.”
The congressional LQBTQ+ Equality Caucus also encouraged people to keep fighting.
Democrats say the next step is to pass H.R. 5 - Equality Act. The bill would prohibit discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation or gender identity. It has passed in the House and has been sent to committee in the Senate.
“The long march for equality takes a step forward,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Monday. “The real answer is to pass the Equality Act, but we all breathe a sigh of relief that the Supreme Court did the right thing.”